Launch celebrations for Europe’s Galileo satellites, built to compete with the US GPS system, have been cut short after the rocket carrying them started to head off course while flying over the M1, just north of Leicester’s Forest East services.
‘Everything was going well until the rocket’s inbuilt TomTom detected roadworks on the M1 northbound, and so recalculated its route.’ says Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency.
The rocket, attempting to adhere to its new course, reportedly then ‘came off’ at the next junction and followed a narrow country road for three miles before taking a sharp left, and ‘rejoining the motorway’.
‘Trying this manoeuvre at four times the speed of sound proved disastrous.’ explained Jean-Jacques. ‘The last we heard from the craft was a message telling us it knew a ‘scenic route’ which we received shortly before it flew off in the direction of outer space.’
‘Of course we’re disappointed,’ he continued, ‘the whole reason for this mission was to stop exactly this sort of thing from happening. Yet we couldn’t even get that right. I mean, sending satellites into space, it’s hardly rocket science is it?’